2 B R 0 2 B
by Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

In this chilling short-story by a master of the craft, Kurt Vonnegut creates a fictional world of the future where life and death are no longer matters of individual choice or destiny. The title refers to the famous quote from Hamlet, “To be or not to be....” with “0” being pronounced as “naught.” It also refers to the eternal dilemma of life and death that face every human being at some point in their lives.

Written in 1962 it is set in some unspecified time in the future, when earth has become a Utopia. The population is under control, there is no poverty, suffering or even natural death. Man has conquered all. It's common for humans to live for two centuries or more. Death happens only when someone requests it. 2BR02B in the story is the telephone number that volunteers must call when they are ready for assisted suicide. It belongs to the Federal Bureau of Termination which decides that for every child born, one person must volunteer to die. However, all is not perfect in this paradise – human beings still retain a spark of humanity and yearn for freedom.

 

 

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